Economic & Community DevelopmentCommittee
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Dear Members of Economic & Community Development Committee,
Re: EC8.13 – Recommended Amendments to Chapter 545, Licensing for Bars, Restaurants, and Entertainment Venues as part of the Night Economy Review
ABC Residents Association (“ABCRA”) is an incorporated volunteer body that has been in existence since 1957. ABCRA represents the interests of residents who live in the area between Yonge Street and Avenue Road and Bloor Street to the CPR tracks.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the recommended amendments to Chapter 545 as part of the Night Economy Review. We are pleased to see updated definitions to clarify different license types and are optimistic that these changes will help businesses and neighbourhoods work together.
We are also supportive of the proactive Noise Control and Patron Management Plans.
We also note that the Noise control plans are being conceived of before the noise by-law implementation review is completed. We believe that the results of that review have to be reflected in the development of Noise control plans.
The report does not discuss what enforcement mechanisms are in place if establishments violate or do not uphold their Noise or Patron Management Plans. Further this report makes no recommendations for updating the Noise by-law, and reiterates that Bylaw Enforcement Officers (BEOs) don’t actually have the ability or authority to attend problem establishments in real time, and do not have the authority to close an establishment that is violating the by-law and/ or the noise control plan. This leaves a number of questions unanswered.
- Do the Noise Control and Patron Management plans qualify as “education first” in the enforcement protocol?
- What are the enforcement steps if an establishment violates their Noise Control and Patron Management plans?
- What are the benchmarks for escalating enforcement?
- Number of 311 calls?
- Number of visits?
- Number of mediation sessions?
Without clear answers to these and other questions the by-law amendments as presented do not provide residents with any assurances that the issues raised during the consultations will be addressed. This lack of clarity still leaves residents at the mercy of bad operators without a clear path towards resolution.
The Toronto Staff report mentions doing a jurisdictional scan but it does not include a number of significant standards included in the Vancouver regulations that require investigation and discussion.
Vancouver began its review with the basic overall principle that the recommendations reflect staff’s efforts to achieve a workable balance between two important goals: increased opportunity for live entertainment and neighbourliness.” The balance of these two principles is reflected in the Vancouver regulations that are NOT yet evident in those in the Toronto Staff report under consideration. For example at present the Noise Control Plans suggested by Toronto City Staff do not set maximum levels or hours of operation. By comparison
The Vancouver bylaw has been written to ensure the rules are clear and the noise regulations integrated into the bylaw specifically
(ii) establish a maximum interior sound level of 90 decibels (dBA) for restaurants providing live entertainment; and
(iii) prohibit live entertainment in restaurants after midnight and before 9 a.m.
Vancouver restaurant operators are also subject to the Noise Control By-law which establishes acceptable levels of noise that various activities, including entertainment, may produce in three categories: activity zone (i.e. industrial areas and downtown), intermediate zone (i.e. mixed use commercial and heritage areas) and quiet zone any area not part of an activity or intermediate zone). Most restaurants are located in either the intermediate or activity zone. Noise control provisions for bass sounds and music sounds in commercial premises are also included in the By-law.
Vancouver’s related Noise Control By-law Oct 3, 2023: regulations include the following:
- 12. (1) No person shall in a commercial premises make, cause, or permit to be made or caused continuous or non-continuous noise or sound of music whether recorded or live, whether amplified or not, the sound level of which exceeds a rating of 90 on an approved sound meter when measured within the premises at a distance of not less than 6.1 metres from the source unless a notice in the form prescribed in subsection (2) is posted in a prominent location at the entry to the premises.
- 12A. Despite anything to the contrary in this By-law, after 9 a.m. and before 1 a.m., a person in a Restaurant – Class 1 or Restaurant – Class 2 must not make, cause or permit to be made or caused continuous or non-continuous noise or sound from live entertainment that exceeds an interior rating of 90 decibels (90 dBA) Leq over a three minute time period on an approved sound meter when measured within the restaurant at a distance of two metres, and at a height of 1.2 m above the floor, from an exterior or common or party wall.
- “Restaurant – Class 1” means the use of premises for the primary purpose of selling and serving prepared food to the public during all hours of operation, where the premises include at least 17 indoor or outdoor seats for customers consuming food purchased on the premises, and where live entertainment, including the use of non-amplified or amplified musical instruments and disc jockey mixing turntables, but excluding patron participation such as karaoke, dancing and open microphone performing, may be available.
- “Restaurant – Class 2” means the use of premises for the primary purpose of selling and serving prepared food to the public during all hours of operation, where the premises include at least 17 indoor or outdoor seats for customers consuming food purchased on the premises, and where live entertainment, including the use of non-amplified or amplified musical instruments and disc jockey mixing turntables and patron participation such as karaoke, dancing and open microphone performing may be available.
Lastly – we would like to note that this report and the zoning by-law review for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues consist of hundreds of pages. These are dense reports and we do not feel that 1 week is adequate time to properly review and make recommendations. These changes will have significant impacts for residents and they should have enough time to review.
Therefore, we recommend that the committee defer this item so as to finalize the Noise by-law implementation review and review options to adequately resource and empower Bylaw Enforcement Officers (BEOs) to intervene on problematic establishments.
We believe this is a necessary step to ensure that residents across the city can feel confident that the time and resources that went into this review will have a meaningful impact.
The ABC Residents Association,
Ian Carmichael and John Caliendo,